Is there some scary stuff going on in Canada that we don’t know about? These days, seems like every band coming down from north of the 49th parallel brings with them a degree of anxiety, late-capitalist delirium, and hall reverb. In this way, Toronto post-punkers Ell V Gore’s new EP Sexstatic is either not what its name suggests, or precisely what its name suggests. Although I’m sure they’re as ecstatic about sex as you and I, this is a dark sex, a brooding sex, full of twitching and baneful stares. Don’t like it? To each his own, but the music fallout from such exercises is quite good.
The EP opens with a purposeful pinneedle minor-scale quickstep on a lightly chorused guitar - so ’79/’80. Their style is certainly a throwback to the days when our lord Ian Curtis walked the earth, hallowed be his name, but it’s executed nearly perfectly. Almost immediately, the group clear the first major hurdle of establishing personality. There’s something certainly sado-masochistic going on here, like they’re rolling around in all this gloom and despair and just loving it. “Lobotomy” is built around a sort-of-surf, sort-of-pharaoh guitar see-saw sprinkled with Alan Vega-style shivering vocal whoops. You’ll remember how it feels to be scared and have fun all at once.
So, where do Ell V Gore go from here? They’ve got exceptional potential and an EP stuffed with four excellent songs. Now, they need to use that leverage to carve a home for themselves into the cragged cliffs of post-punk - to craft a sound that’s theirs so that, in the future, upstart bands will be compared to them. I can see it, and I can't always see it. They’ve got an aggressive power that’s as hard to miss as it is to resist.